Phoebe Bridgers came out of nowhere (i.e., her bedroom) in 2017 with the powerful and acclaimed debut Stranger In the Alps, becoming an overnight indie sensation & everyone’s ‘favorite new artist’. So, expectations were high for follow-up Punisher, released in this new world of coronavirus lockdowns and Black Lives Matter protests. Yet her new album manages to be even more touching and heartfelt, your best friend bearing her soul in the best way possible.
While mixed between sad and happy tracks like many a record, throughout Punisher Bridgers shines with a compelling intimacy. She can be exquisite in the conversational beauty of “Garden Song” one minute, and then on the next deliver a pitch-perfect wry smile on the tour story “Kyoto”. When she is in her sorrow, she does not wallow, but instead conveys exactly what she feels, from her crying heart on “Halloween” to well-earned brightening in “I See You” (QRO review – originally titled “ICU”, but the world has changed…). Punisher closes with Bridgers coming to accept the end of things, both mournfully and hopefully, with “I Know the End”.
Since the success of Strangers, Bridgers has been part of great new team-ups such as boygeniuswith Julien Baker & Lucy Dacus, as well as Better Oblivion Community Center (QRO album review) with Conor Oberst. Yet Punisher is her best work yet, an album you want to hold to your heart through these trying times.